Overview of PIBO 2009 Accomplishments

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Overview of PIBO 2009 Accomplishments

Each year the PACFISH INFISH Biological Opinion Effectiveness Monitoring (PIBO EM) program collects reach level stream habitat, temperature, macroinvertebrate, and riparian data to evaluate if key biological and physical components of aquatic and riparian communities are being improved, degraded, or restored within the range of steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus). In 2009, crews from the PIBO program collected data at 420 reaches within the PIBO study area; combined with previous years, PIBO has collected stream and riparian data at over 2,400 field surveys reaches within the Interior Columbia River and Upper Missouri River Basins.  Of the total number of reaches currently sampled PIBO personnel have collected repeat data at 900 sites for estimates of trends in of aquatic conditions (i.e., habitat, macroinvertebrates, and temperature); each subsequent field season will increase the total number of repeated sites by approximately 300 and by 2012, all 1,550 sites in the PIBO EM study design will have been sampled at least twice. 

In addition to the extensive field efforts conducted by the PIBO program, the PIBO staff uses field data to evaluate the status and trends of stream and riparian habitat, conduct analyses to improve aquatic monitoring, and integrate results within the scientific community.  Below, we provide brief synopses of the accomplishments by the PIBO program in 2009 (more detailed descriptions (and citations) can be found in the 2009 PIBO Annual Report):

The PIBO 2009 annual report and data can be download from the Fish and Aquatic Ecology web site at the following address:  http://www.fs.fed.us/biology/fishecology/new.html#pibo_reports

·                     PIBO personnel provided a thorough summary of habitat and biological status and trends to NOAA biologists performing the 5-Year Status Review for anadromous species currently listed under the Endangered Species Act.  The extensive PIBO dataset allowed for substantial contributions for multiple species and population groups (i.e., ESU, MPG, and Population).

·                     PIBO and USFS personnel developed an index of physical habitat condition for headwater streams based on physical stream habitat data collected under the PIBO EM program. In this effort, the authors compared the condition of stream habitat of sites exposed to different management levels as a means to better understand how streams have or have not been altered due to land management activities.  This effort is currently published in the journal Transactions of the American Fisheries Society.

·                     PIBO and USFS personnel collaborated with aquatic researchers and managers to conduct a comparison of the performance and compatibility of protocols used by seven monitoring groups to measure stream habitat in the Pacific Northwest.  The goal of this research was to assess the performance and the potential for data sharing amongst monitoring groups.  Given the high cost of stream habitat monitoring, the results of this suggest that additional effort needs to be focused on developing approaches that increase precision and compatibility of measured stream attributes so that their utility can extend beyond the monitoring group that collects the data.  This effort is currently published in the journal North American Journal of Fisheries Management.

·                     Using data collected through research efforts to improve habitat monitoring by PIBO personnel and other Federal agencies, PIBO and USFS personnel illustrated how the variability in data collected within and among habitat sampling protocols can profoundly affect the interpretation of habitat quality, quantity, and the development of habitat-to-fish population metrics.  The results of this effort illustrate how different approaches to habitat surveys can impact fisheries management and conservation and are In press and will be published in September in Fisheries.

·                     PIBO and USFS personnel collaborated with aquatic researchers to conduct a formal review of bull trout habitat associations and use PIBO field data to conduct exploratory analyses of patterns of bull trout habitat use across the Interior Columbia River Basin.  The results of these analyses indicated important gaps in our knowledge regarding the role of substrate size in juvenile bull trout habitat use, patterns of habitat use in downstream sites, which may act as critical overwintering habitat or migratory corridors, and the need to incorporate sampling efficiencies in future bull trout habitat evaluations.  This effort is currently published in the journal North American Journal of Fisheries Management.

·                     PIBO and USFS personnel used PIBO field data to quantify the extent of temporal variability in stream habitat attributes across sites and which landscape, geomorphic, climatic, and management factors are more/less associated with different extents of temporal variability. This effort has direct implications for stream restoration and monitoring is currently In review and will soon be submitted to the journal Transactions of the American Fisheries Society.

·                     PIBO biologists extensively collaborated with Region 4 and Region 1 USFS biologists to use PIBO field data to evaluate the effectiveness, sources of potential bias, and means to improve management- and landscape-based assessments of watershed condition (e.g., GIS-based risk and watershed condition assessmsents). This work is currently in progress.

·                     PIBO and USFS personnel are collaborating with tribal biologists to evaluate the effectiveness of using genetic approaches to gauge the success of conservation efforts and the status and trends of individual species within the Interior Columbia and Upper Missouri River Basins.   These efforts are currently in progress

·                     PIBO and USFS personnel have funded two graduate students at Utah State University to conduct research to improve riparian monitoring and assist in the management of riparian ecosystems.  The first student is evaluating the temporal and spatial variation in ecological assessments of riparian plant communities, specifically as they relate to monitoring.  The second student will be modeling the distribution and abundance of invasive riparian plant species, with explicit goals of testing model assumptions, predicting the impact of non-native invasions, and validating these models. Both of these projects are currently in progress.

·                     Beginning in fall of 2009, PIBO personnel are working with RMRS in Boise to establish a network of year round water temperature recorders through the Columbia Basin.  The initial phase will involve instillation of ~ 250 devises, throughout a six state area.

·                     In addition to these efforts, PIBO personnel integrated the results of field efforts and analyses at five professional meetings throughout the Western United States during 2009.